Heroin and other illicit narcotic drugs are illegal under federal and all state laws, although many states now offer drug diversion programs to help drug abusers get treatment in lieu of prison. Massachusetts heroin laws state that possession of the powerful opiate is a felony punishable by 2 years in prison and/or a $2,000 fine. Subsequent offenses call for 5-16 years behind bars.
The main provisions of Massachusetts' heroin laws are listed in the chart below and more in-depth information follows. See FindLaw's Drug Charges section for related articles and resources.
||Ch. 94c §1, et seq.
||2 yrs. and/or $2000; Subsequent offense: 2.5-5 yrs. and/or $5000; Greater than 14 grams is trafficking
||2-10 yrs. and/or $1000 to $10,000; Subsequent offense: 5-15 yrs. and/or $2500 to $25,000; 3rd offense: not less than 40 yrs.; Sale to minors or near school property: stricter penalties
||14-28 g.: 5-20 yrs. and/or $5000 to $50,000; 28-100 g.: 7-20 yrs. and/or $5000 to $50,000; 100-200 g.: 10-20 yrs. and/or $10,000 to $100,000; Over 200 g.: 15-20 yrs. and/or $50,000 to $500,000
Justification for Strict Heroin Laws
Heroin is one of the strictest regulated drugs in Massachusetts. This is because it is highly addictive, and the negative effects of addiction are not limit to the drug user herself. People addicted to drugs may commit other crimes like theft or burglary to help pay for their addiction once they have spent all of their own money. The state of Massachusetts also uses a lot of its financial resources to pay for court procedures and incarceration for addicts who have been convicted of those crimes.
Possession of Heroin
Merely possessing heroin in Massachusetts is a felony. For a first offense, you may be put in jail for two years, and fined $2,000. Subsequent convictions after the first conviction earn jail time between 2.5 to 5 years, and the fine can be as much as $5,000. Also, possessing large amounts of heroin may be considered drug trafficking even if it is intended for personal use.
Sale of Heroin
For a first offense, selling heroin can be punished with anywhere between 2 to 10 years in jail, and a fine between $1,000 and $10,000. The amount of jail time and the fine can change depending on how much heroin was sold, and can even change based on the location of the sale, like at a school. Second offenses, as well as all other subsequent offenses, have a minimum jail sentence of 5 years, and a minimum fine of $2,500. The jail sentence can be as long as 15 years, and the fine can be as high as $25,000 for a subsequent conviction for selling heroin.
Importing, exporting, or transporting drugs is generally known as drug trafficking. In Massachusetts, possession of 14 or more grams of heroin is automatically considered heroin trafficking, regardless of the intent of the person with the heroin. For trafficking of 14 to 28 grams of heroin, the jail sentence is 5 to 20 years, with a possible fine ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. For up to 100 grams of heroin, the sentence can be between 7 and 20 years. For up to 200 grams the minimum jail sentence increases to ten years, and the fine can be between $10,000 and $100,000. For trafficking over 200 grams of heroin, the jail sentence can be between 15 and 20 years, and the fine can be between $50,000 and $500,000.
A heroin conviction is very serious, and will have a huge impact on your life. If you would like to know more about heroin law, or, if you would like help from a private attorney to defend you against heroin charges, there are many criminal defense attorneys throughout Massachusetts with knowledge of drug laws who may be able to help.